We were awakened at 12am with the usual hot drinks,
got dressed and had a light snack.
We left for the summit at 1am.
It was a moonless night,
so everyone had headlamps to light their way.
Looking up the mountain I saw a stream of lights winding up the mountain
ahead of us.
Many people had started much earlier.
Guides Renatus and Nicholas set a fast pace up the mountain;
we passed many people as we gained altitude on the steep,
For much of the way we were maintaining a one step per breath pace.
At approximately 18,500'
my back was hurting every time I had to take a long step up with my
I began to worry if I continued to the summit I would be spending the
next 5 weeks of our Africa travels with back pain.
Nicholas must have noticed my plight and offered to carry my day pack.
This time I swallowed my pride and accepted.
The lightened load made a big difference.
A short time later,
Kendal turned her pack over to Renatus,
while Arthur continued to carry his own.
I had noted neither guide brought a pack;
perhaps they anticipated the possibility of taking ours.
With my lightened load,
I was proceeding at a rate of two breaths for every step up the very
Near the summit of Everest,
climbers talk of taking four breaths per step;
two breaths per step already seems maddeningly slow.